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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 15, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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>> tammy aaberg, thank you for joining me tonight. glad you are working with senator franken on this issue. showdown. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. leading off tonight republican food fight. remember this? classic scene from the movie "animal house." >> food fight! >> great scene. well mitt romney knows this much. if he loses the first of his five home states, that would be michigan, he will be in big trouble. big trouble. so romney is now trying to do to rick santorum what he did to newt gingrich, bury him with negative ads. but santorum is fighting back on romney's weak side, his lack of
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a sense of humor. the republican food fight is our top story. while the republicans are knocking themselves out trying to knock each other out, things are suddenly looking unusually good for president obama. he looks like a winner on the payroll tax and on the birth control fight. his poll numbers are going up and at least for now he beats all the republican candidates for president easily. plus, a story in today's "wall street journal" shows just how scrambled the current gop race has become. the announcement says newt gingrich's atm, you know him as sheldon adelson out in las vegas funding gingrich now to hurt santorum in order to help romney so romney can beat obama in november. so is it really time for republicans to act like they're in a panic? apparently so. and with europe planning sanctions to stop iran's nuclear program, iran announces it may cut off oil sales to much of the continent of europe. and what could that do to gas prices right here that are already high?
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finally, let me finish with why romney is beginning to look, i'm sorry, he is a dignified guy normally, beginning to look goofy. we begin with the republican food fight between mitt romney and rick santorum. chip saltsman was campaign manager for mike huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign. joan walsh is editor of "salon" and of course an msnbc political analyst. thank you both. i want you to look at the new polls out. cnn/opinion research has joined the other polls this week now showing santorum's momentum. you can see here that in three of the four national polls now he snuck ahead of mitt romney. only in the gallup poll does santorum still trail but only by a couple points, two points. you've been through this, chip. here we are. what is looking like finally the gun fight at the okay corral, finally come down it looks like between two candidates. what i've always believed was going to be romney's problem. out there in the clear with one true blue conservative candidate he's got problems. >> yeah. i mean this is going to be a challenge for him and i think
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you're right. it is a little bit like the food fight and we haven't figured out who is blue toe, the john belushi character. i know he gets out unscathed. who knows? this is an ebb and flow thing. primaries are never pretty. rick santorum has all the momentum right now going into a lot of delegate-rich states over the next two weeks. i think there's something like 400 or 530 some odd delegates between now and after super tuesday and a lot of proportional states in there and a lot of states that look good for santorum except maybe virginia. i'm pretty sure romney will win virginia, but romney has to make this stand. i think you're right in one of his home states which is michigan. if michigan goes down if santorum wins michigan he probably won't have a great super tuesday. >> let me go to my friend joan on this. looking across the aisle, across the middle politically, it is enjoyable isn't it, to watch this? >> it is very -- yes, it is very enjoyable. all of these candidates are doing president obama's work for him. so we can sit here and laugh. we also have a situation where i
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think 62% of republicans in a recent poll said they wish somebody else would get in. they'd like to have another candidate. so they're in trouble, chris, and we know it. i think what is really striking about this latest romney barrage, i have just taken it for granted that negative ads work and he bloodied up gingrich and he is going to do the same to santorum. if you look at these latest ads, i don't know. they're pretty weak tea. they've got that same voice of concern and doom. but, you know, earmarks and pork, like it or not, everybody has done it. hillary clinton, like it or not, is not as polarizing as nancy pelosi. he voted with her on a hot button issue. but there is something a little bit interesting about this. because i think -- i always thought he could smear santorum, but he hasn't really landed a punch as far as i can see. >> joan, you've teed it up for us. here he is -- here it is the pro-romney superpac restoring our future ad that was unleashed. it is ago negativity. rick santorum in three upcoming
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states, michigan, arizona, ohio. here is the latest ad from the romney-aligned pac. let's watch. >> here did rick santorum actually vote? santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times and for billions in wasteful projects including the bridge to nowhere. in a single session, santorum co-sponsored 51 bills to increase spending and zero to cut spending. santorum even voted to raise his own pay and joined hillary clinton to let convicted felons vote. rick santorum, big spender, washington insider. restore our future is responsible for the content of this message. >> the santorum ad produced this ad in response, called rombo and mocks romney's reliance on negative ads as you just saw to destroy his opponents. a lot of people think this is a very smart ad. let's watch it. >> i'm rick santorum and i approve this message. >> mitt romney's negative attack machine is back on full throttle.
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this time romney's firing his mud at rick santorum. romney and his superpac have spent a staggering 20 million attacking fellow republicans. why? because romney is trying to hide from his big government romney care and his support for job-killing cap and trade. in the end mitt romney's ugly attacks are going to backfire. >> that really does look like a slightly chunkier mitt romney. they got a great actor in there for their casting. he looks kind of like a crazy person. i'm trying to think of one of the cartoons. who was the guy always chasing bugs bunny, you know? elmer fudd. he didn't look like a real rambo but elmer fudd as rambo. your thoughts on that ad's power? >> well, i think the ad is very good. i mean, it takes a very negative environment we've been in for the past couple weeks and makes fun of it. it's kind of a very relaxed ad, kind of sneaks up on you and at the end of the day you're like hey, governor romney is trying
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to throw mud and against my guy rick santorum or against the candidate rick santorum and i think it is a very effective ad for santorum. and i think on the romney side, you see what they're trying to do. they're trying to paint him as rick santorum another washington insider and that is where the lines are drawn as we move forward for the next two weeks. >> joan, i don't watch television the way most regular people do. a lot of most people get home, they're tired. they go in the living room and they watch tv while their wife in some cases is making dinner or the husband in some weirder cases is making dinner and they watch television throughout the night. if you're a normal person like that in this season and you're living in say detroit or somewhere in michigan now, you're about to live a miserable next month or two. the next couple weeks you're going to be watching nasty, nasty. i can't believe a regular person likes it. >> i can't either. you know, sometimes i play a regular person. i walk around trying to be one, chris. i think that you look at that santorum ad, i loved it. you know? >> i'm talking about the romney ad which is the same old negative stupidity.
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>> right. i think that is why the santorum ad, chip and i don't agree on much, but that could cut through this clutter and cut through the negativity. i think all of us can agree that we don't want to see mitt romney buy this election whether it's fighting rick santorum or fighting president obama, so there is something populist in this reaction to it and i agree people sitting on their couches are not going to want to hear that droning voice telling them what a bad guy rick santorum is. romney has still not -- go ahead. >> no, go ahead. >> romney has still not sold himself. he is still doing this tired old thing of trashing his opponent rather than saying this is what i'm for and this is what i'm going to do as president and i think that is a real problem. >> i was refreshed to see that rick santorum actually put his name right at the beginning of the ad and at the end of the ad there. chip, he's loving the identification with this funny ad whereas the other one, the spooky ad, that romney is running is run by some, you know, phantom pac.
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>> well, i think what you're seeing is santorum is having a great time. he is kind of playing the role of happy warrior talking about issues he believes in. he is passionate. you can see that with him. he knows who he is, what he believes, and why he is running. if mitt romney is going to be successful, he has to do the same thing. we have to know who he is, what he believes, and how he is going to be as president. he hasn't quite done that yet. >> in the spirit of fun, here we are. it's wednesday. here's the mitt romney ad that was out yesterday with him driving around detroit reminiscing about his michigan childhood. keep an eye on -- this is his home state according to this ad. let's watch. >> i grew up in michigan. it was exciting to be here. i remember going to the detroit auto show with my dad. that was a big deal. how in the world did an industry and its leaders and its unions get in such a fix that they lost jobs, that they lost their future? president obama did all these things the liberals have wanted to do for years and the fact that you've got millions of workers out of work, home values collapsing, people in detroit distressed --
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>> okay. in the spirit of levity back in july romney drove around new hampshire remembering his family moments in that state. let's watch this. we're headed to berlin today in the north country. we used to come here early on with our boys. played in the streams and went to the woods and climbed through the crevices, the notch. you get to climb through the rocks and get quite a sense of nature up here. it's really extraordinarily beautiful. >> well, chip, he's got five states to draw and he has a house now in california. he lives in new hampshire. he lives in massachusetts. he was from detroit. he of course made his bones out there in salt lake city. how many places is he going to be driving this year? except he is never going to show us driving to montreal with the poor dog strapped to the roof. he's not going to show us that driving scene is he? >> my dog does not like that story. >> mine either. >> i really like the beginning of these ads but then he goes --
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we go through the hills and crevices. i grew up going through hills and valleys and gullies not crevices. he has to kind of tear down the talking points and just tell us who he is and what he believes. i liked the very beginning driving through detroit going to the auto show with his dad, but he kind of pivots and goes after the president and the unions. i understand that, but i still think if he would just talk about who he is. he has raised a great family, was very successful in business, was a good governor, did a great job of turning around the olympics in salt lake. those are the things people would like to know and he is not talking about them. >> what do you think of this driving scene? i don't know, joan. it doesn't grab me. >> i can't wait to see him driving through california. i guess we're another one of his home states, chris. to what chip is saying, i think he's got a problem because we saw the more we focused on bain capital, the more he looked like mister 1%. the more we focus on his record as governor of massachusetts, look, there are some things about it i like. if he'd stayed that guy, he might have been a different guy and a more electable guy in the
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general election but he wouldn't get through a primary. so he can't go and brag about either bain or massachusetts because he's trying to run away from both of those records. he can't explain them in words that resonate with either primary voters or maybe even, you know, unaffiliated voters. that is part of his problem. he may well be a great guy with a great family but, you know, rick santorum has more kids and i'm not sure he is going to win on that head-to-head battle. so this is tough for him. i don't think any -- we sit here and we like act as though, oh, i can tell mitt romney what to do. i can't. i have no idea what he should do. >> you know i'm getting very tired, chip, of candidates in both parties constantly acting like they're regular people. we know they're not. the big masquerade. i'm just a regular guy driving around in a car. i own a quarter billion dollars. thank you, chip. you should be running a campaign. you are too smart for doing this. thank you for coming in. please come back. joan, of course you are, like me. we watch this thing. we don't do it. coming up all of a sudden things are looking unusually good for
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president obama. wait until you see these polls coming back. he is up in those polls and has a new spring in his step. he's up. this guy is going places. maybe back to the white house for four more years. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. when i inspect homes, i can't be in an allergy fog. so i get claritin clear for strong, non-drowsy relief of all my allergies like dust mold pets and pollen. looks good. thanks. i live claritin clear.
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but think about your heart. 2% has over half the saturated fat of whole milk. want to cut back on fat and not compromise on taste? try smart balance fat free milk. it's what you'd expect from the folks at smart balance. you might have missed this moment from president obama's trip to wisconsin today. there he is being greeted at the tarmac by wisconsin's republican governor scott walker who gave him a custom milwaukee brewers baseball jersey. walker is facing a recall. after pushing through anti-union legislation. the meeting between walker and president obama was cordial and without incident. unlike the welcome the president got last month in arizona from governor jan brewer. there it is. we'll be right back.
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welcome back. a long way to go until november,
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but the white house may have reason to be in a celebratory mood right now. that's because issue after issue right now, things have been going the president's way. there are new numbers out from the "new york times"/cbs poll that are sure to make the president happy. his approval is at a two-year high not counting the blip after the osama bin laden raid. 50% now approve versus 43% who disapprove. that is the exact opposite from september. they've closed the enthusiasm gap. the numbers were lopsided with republicans. more enthused. but take a look at the numbers now. an equal number of voters from both parties say they are more enthusiastic to vote this november. on the xherks there's been a big shift on how americans view the recovery. back in september, just 12% said it was getting better. and far fewer are saying it's getting worse.
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all in all, the numbers are looking much better for the president than they did just recently. to look at the numbers chuck todd, the chief white house correspondent, and political director for nbc news, and major garrett's the white house correspondent, two of the smartest guys in the business right now, smartest people, no, really. really. i'm not always sarcastic. >> i know. i'll take it. >> i want to know if the white house has happy feet over this. >> cautious happy feet but they do. number one, i think we know why the numbers have improved. it's because the economic data has been coming up positive. >> objective reality. >> three straight months. we've seen these blips up and down for the last two years and every time i remember our own pollsters would say let's see if the country will feel like it's getting better on the economy for three straight polls and they couldn't do it for the longest period of time. now you have the combination of you see the jobs reports, the stock market is up, and in a weird way. >> yeah. >> i have this -- i think the european disaster if you will
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economically what's going on over there is having a weirdly positive effect. you know what? things aren't as bad as it is over there. we're in relatively good shape. so you throw all of that together and that is just slowly elevated. >> isn't the greece situation getting better? >> they seem to be coming to resolution but it makes doing business with america again not so bad. >> let's talk about reality and perception. major, is it the way you see it the same way that it is that reality has changed the perception? voters are smart, they can pay attention? the only bad number i saw last night is when i filled my gas tank coming home. >> right. >> it blew me away. i've never seen $75. i know i buy supreme but 75 bucks to fill the tank. i know it's a world record for me. >> go to virginia. >> that is a variable that is going to be and is a concern in the white house because even if nothing happens unexpected in the middle east and we have to imagine that something unexpected might happen. everyone is concerned about that. but even if it doesn't the
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department of energy is already projecting in urban areas it would have to have reformulated gasoline during the summertime, gas prices 5.50 or above in chicago, new york, philly, places like that. those are going to be high gas prices early in the summer. not late in the summer. that is one variable. chris, as you well know in politics, you can't tell people things they don't actually believe and get them to believe it. they have to believe it around themselves and people do believe net-net the economy though not great is moving at least in a positive direction. but remember this. the president didn't move from the low 40s to the 50 in one poll. he moved gradually. why? because in september the white house said, you know, we've spent 8 1/2 months with republicans. we went through three different debt and deficit debates. none of them resolved well. all of our numbers are down. we're done with that. we're going to campaign. we'll govern when we have to and when republicans come our way the payroll tax rollover this week is a classic example but in the main we'll campaign. we'll divide issues. we'll put our side on one side and the republicans on the other and we'll let the people decide.
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they've been doing that consistently, persistently since september and they are now yielding some of the fruits of that strategy. >> so the bottom line of the republicans screwing them on the deal and saying we won't even take a 10-1 deal on revenue suspending. we won't cut any deal. we can't get the tea party to do it so we won't do it. that has helped the president because he says i won't waste time with you guys anymore. i'm going to campaign on jobs. >> they went and said well they're campaigning. they've made the decision they are done working with us. so we're going to do the same. >> but you agree with major? >> absolutely. >> ever since september this guy has been running for re-election on the jobs issue. >> and it's been a message we're going to get the whole we can't wait was their fall mantra. they've changed it a little but it's the same idea. look what he is doing today. let's not overlook the fact that the republican -- there isn't yet a republican -- optimistic republican alternative. i think that is helping the president.
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because these debates have sort of dragged down everybody in the republican party in this presidential race, you say those enthusiasm numbers, it's as much about the democratic number going up as frankly the republican number is going down and that's because there is just less enthusiasm for this field. >> let's take a look at the president. he gave a rousing speech in milwaukee. listen to what he had to say about the state of the economic recovery. let's watch. >> we're still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations. and i'm not going to lie to you guys. you know it. we've still got a long way to go before everyone who wants a job can find it. but here is -- here is what i want everybody to remember. over the last 23 months businesses have added nearly 3.7 million new jobs. manufacturing is coming back. companies are starting to bring jobs back. the economy is getting stronger. the recovery is speeding up. and now we have to do everything in our power to keep our foot on the gas.
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and the last thing we can afford to do is go back to the same policies that got us into this mess. >> how did he luck out in having a guy who looks like he is still one of the two front-runners romney vote completely against the auto bailout and is walking around as mr. 1%. he almost ought to have 1% on his jersey this guy romney. >> you know, it struck me listening to the president there. he feels as if he now has an optimistic message to sell. we've turned the corner. it is starting to get better. see, our policies are working. and we're watching mitt romney test out in michigan right now this message of, yeah. it's getting a little bit better or yeah the auto industry is back and that's good but that was the wrong way to do it. selling a more pessimistic message of saying no that was the wrong way to do it. how will voters buy that? granted, this is just a little petri dish test inside a republican primary but it is a tough message for romney to sell sort of saying yeah things are a little bit better but boy it should be even -- should be even better at this point.
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he did things all the wrong way and it has to be selling a more >> like saying to a guy you've bought a car without talking to me? it's like knocking the success we're getting. >> that is all true. i think there is also something very important and worth noting both political and a matter of policy this week. the president's budget in fine print said for the whole country to look at what he has said rhetorically which is i am going to raise taxes on the wealthy. the president said that before in previous budgets but has added new proposed tax increases in this budget year. i have a piece i'm working on for the magazine this week. i don't recall and i'm trying to research this, but i don't recall a democrat running for re-election and proposing higher taxes since 1948 since harry truman. the president believes not only is that good policy but importantly and i think it's kind of a rubicon he has crossed politically that he can talk to the country aggressively about raising taxes, not just the bush tax cuts for the wealthy expiring but things of his own, the buffet rule, dividends, things like that saying i'm going to do that.
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>> do you buy the nate silver theory he is consciously saying okay. i'll lose upper income people but get a lot more regular people in that tradeoff? >> absolutely. >> that seems to be what he's up to. >> when you take rhetoric and you put it in your budget, even though it's kind of a political document, it is still a governing document, the intention of a president for the entire country to see. that is an important signal that i think the president is sending. >> by the way, he is trading off a couple rich people to get a lot more work -- >> i don't know if it's a tradeoff. i think if you're going to do this fairness message and frankly if you're going to have this conversation about the deficit that clearly is coming, he can't box himself in governing. he is being sort of honest about where things are going to be in the way he wants to bring down the deficit. >> right. >> keep in mind, november is going to decide the fate of the bush tax cuts. not just his health care plan but the fate of the bush tax cuts. that's a lot on the line. i love where major is going with this because it is -- people need to realize that is -- we've not had sort of that sort of -- >> you mean elections matter. i like it when they matter.
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we have to go. >> fully engaged debate on taxes. >> i know. i really do believe elections should matter and they should respond to the result of the voters. listen to the voters, politicians, and do what they tell you. chuck todd, thank you. major, i'm sure they're listening. up next president obama makes a prediction about what we'll see at the republican convention this summer down in sweaty tampa next in the side show. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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back to "hardball." now for the side show. first up, crashing the party? when president obama was interviewed by a local nbc affiliate in tampa yesterday he predicted the republican convention there this august
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would feature a lot of anti-obama messages. let's listen to the president. >> you know we have a republican national convention coming to tampa. chance of seeing you in the neighborhood any time? >> i suspect there will be a lot of signs with my face on it from some of those republicans but it may not always be flattering. >> santorum, romney? >> i'm not going to pick it. >> gingrich? >> i tell you what though. i hope they spend a lot of money in tampa while they're there and create some good business for folks. >> do i detect an upbeat tone in the president's voice? i think so. finally, still having doubts? over the weekend sarah palin said she wasn't convinced that mitt romney is conservative enough for either her or the republican voters out there. here is romney responding to what palin said and then listen to what palin said about romney which romney said. >> we should probably spend time with sarah palin although she is hard to find. i'm not quite sure what she would be preferring to. i'm pro life, pro traditional marriage, i believe in the
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second amendment. >> a lot of this has to do with somebody's past, you know, where they -- were they pro abortion before and now perhaps they're pro life and what allowed that switch? kind of that flip flop. were they pro big government, pro increase of taxes back then? and where are they now? so it's subjective when you try to measure somebody's conservative quotient. >> i think she is talking about his past show she can get him off his present. she is hedging in other words. i think if romney wins governor palin does not want to be left stranded up in alaska. big question for republicans -- is it time to hit the panic button? we are seeing evidence of just that. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc.
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back to "hardball." the flip side to all of this positive news for president obama is all the negative news there is for the republican candidates these hours. there's been little for the gop let's face it, with the primary season that left even republican
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voters wondering, is this all there is? our question tonight, is it time for republicans to hit the panic button and start looking for other candidates even now? joining me now is an old friend ed rogers, former aide to president herbert walker bush. he goes way back. and msnbc political analyst david corn to enjoy the festivities. he is with "mother jones," a magazine that covers the republican party instinctively. republican voters don't seem to care for any of the candidates. take a look at the latest cbs/"new york times" numbers which show only one-third of republican voters are even satisfied with the candidates still standing. 62% wish there were other choices. in other words other candidates. compare that to the beginning of october when republicans were evenly split on the issue, 46/46 in terms of were they happy with their field? where are you, ed? are you happy with this field that now has come down to basically mitt romney who is only ahead in one of the three big national polls, and santorum, who is right ahead of him in a couple of the three polls, and of course newt is still in the race?
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>> it is not a flattering time for our party. we are into a hand-to-hand combat phase, a phase that doesn't serve the republican party well. >> do you like the combatants? >> there will never be a better contrast than with obama now. >> do you like the combatants in your field? >> you fight with the army you've got. we're not going to have another nominee. >> is there still a structure, a hierarchy in your party that can meet somewhere at the petroleum club somewhere? >> i wish. >> you wish. >> what happened to the smoke-filled rooms? i never made it. no, it's going to be, primaries are going to resolve this. it's going to be one of two people it looks like, the prediction business is a dangerous business. but it's going to be romney or santorum, but in the end it's going to be -- if the republicans do a good job, a referendum on obama. >> if the economy drops i go with that. let me ask you before i get to david here. who is looking at the other team here. you're the team. >> thank you.
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>> do you think santorum could stand the muster and the incredible scrutiny he will get in a general election? with all those comments about women and gay people that are so divisive to a lot of people and offensive even, can he take that kind of assault of scrutiny? >> he is about to see the kitchen sink up close and in person. we're going to find out everything and more than we ever wanted to know about rick santorum, and that will suggest what his vulnerabilities could be in a general election. >> with a lot of money -- >> what about the democrats? do the people of the white house and people on the democratic side, are they storing up for him if they're lucky to get him? >> i will tell you something. i contacted some of the democratic strategists who worked against them on the bob casey race when he was beat in pennsylvania by 18 points. >> 17. >> i called with some questions. they said we're not talking about rick santorum yet. they have gobs of opposition research back in those days, and they're just kind of sitting on it waiting to see what is going to happen which is the smart
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move for them to make. you know, the interesting thing if you look at the numbers that you just put up about 60% of republicans being dissatisfied with the race on the republican side. >> 100% are dissatisfied with obama. >> no, no. with maybe the republicans. but if you go back and look at 2008, that was a hard race between the democrats but the people weren't saying we're not dissatisfied with hillary clinton or barack obama. they still liked them a lot. >> okay. let's look at the numbers. here are the favorable/unfavorables right now on the republican front-runners. gingrich, 63% unfavorable. 25% favorable. look at that spread. romney, 54% unfavorable. 34% favorable. a 20-point spread there. santorum. he's relatively okay. 38% unfavorable. 32% favorable. he at least -- well he doesn't have a positive but not a bad negative. >> that is prekitchen sink. >> so you guys, the one that's best known, gingrich, been around forever, is almost two-thirds negative right now. and romney's majority negative.
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>> i don't think gingrich has ever had a positive/negative ratio. >> since he was born? even his mommy didn't like him? >> since he's been a public figure. the numbers are interesting but not relevant. >> what? >> you can't take those numbers and extrapolate out to a general election. 80% of what is going to drive votes in november of 2012 lies in front of us not behind us. this is not -- >> let's look at this limbaugh comment. i want to race forward to this comment because i think your right wing auxiliary on radio and on fox has lost its voice. people like bill, what is his name? kristol. are all dumping on your candidates. here's worse than dumping on your candidates. >> that is a good sign. >> here is an example of a crazy guy, not crazy, smart normally but here is limbaugh taking you guys off the cliff by talking about -- and here is a big guy, a male figure -- talking about birth control yesterday. not about the church. just birth control. >> what do democrats inherently fear about pregnancy?
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well, they've made it into a disease. pregnancy is a great health risk for women. could it be that democrats fear kids? i mean, they are aborting their own people. the vast majority of people having abortions are democrat voters. >> okay. is that helpful to your campaign? >> that is what is called in politics playing to your negative stereotype. rush limbaugh is a good man and a wise man. he ought not have said that. that wasn't helpful to the republican cause. the worst thing you can do in american politics is play to negative stereotypes, and i hope he has your next diatribe on his show. >> doesn't bother me any. >> if this plays with the republican base -- >> this hatred of birth control. >> it shows -- this is the problem mitt romney is having. the republican primary base has moved so far to the right but it's also animated by a tremendous hatred of the left, of obama, and democrats.
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>> you always say that. democrats always say the republicans hate. >> that sounds like hatred of women. that's a weird kind of message. >> this is expanding it beyond obama to say democrats are aborting their own, democrats are immoral. they don't like women. women -- i don't like women. i don't know what he is even saying there but whatever he is one of the leaders of the right. >> he is challenging the right of a woman to decide who wants to get pregnant. it is an astounding assault on women's rights. that he's playing to there. i don't care what language he uses about aborting. he is basically saying me, this big guy, this big guy is telling women there is something wrong with you and deciding whether you want to have kids or not. he has been married four times without kids. i wonder if birth control has something to do with it. >> come on. >> it's a joke. >> there's no point in personalizing it. >> i have to. >> rush limbaugh personalizes everything. >> he said the democrats are aborting their young. >> you are playing to a republican negative stereotype and i wish he hadn't done it. it is not going to drive votes. it won't make anybody vote one way or the other in november based on what rush limbaugh
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says. >> we should have more women on the show right now. >> this is the problem your party has. >> i agree. >> the problem the party has is that stuff plays. he doesn't say it for no reason. you have people out there who want to suck that stuff up and that's what mitt romney has so much problem with. >> the democrats are not without their whacky stuff. it's not -- >> rush limbaugh has lost his compass because that's not helping your candidates. thank you. ed rogers. >> it didn't help. >> three men agree. so women out there say about time. up next, iran announces new advances in its nuclear project. this is scary. now it is threatening to cut off oil sales. what is that going to do to our gas prices? once you pay five bucks at the pump how worse can it get this summer? this is "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] if you had a dollar for every dollar
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welcome back to "hardball." iran is ratcheting up the level of international tension with a series of recent developments. today the iranian president made a big show. here he is, ahmadinejad, unveiling the country's first domestically produced fuel rods. in a ceremony that aired on iranian tv. second there are conflicting reports out now that iran intends to cut off oil to six european countries and, third, there is a suspicion iran was involved in monday's attacks on the israeli diplomats in india and the former soviet republic of georgia. and a botched attack just yesterday in bangkok. we go now to ali aruzi, nbc's tehran bureau chief. run through all of those. first of all, the nuclear advance. how would you calibrate it? >> reporter: for iran it's a big thing, chris, they have played it up on state tv, all over the
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news. iran is claiming they mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, achieved 20% uranium enrichment, very difficult to do, very difficult to get from 3.5% to 20%. they manufactured their own centerfuges, very sophisticated, better than the last generation and they said they don't need anybody else's help, they have done it on their own despite sanctions, despite nuclear scientists being targeted, mastered the cycle on their own and don't need anybody's help and will forge ahead. big statement from iran and not far away from election where they want to appeal to national interest. >> are they daring netanyahu to attack them? they are putting their chin out, and saying "go ahead, punch me." >> reporter: there is a part of people here say there is a
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faction that are are inviting an attack because it would galvanize support for the regime, it has become weaker after the 2009 disputed elections and nothing like a war to solidify support for a nation. now, there are other people that say iran doesn't want that, they are only looking after their self-interest, not interested in a nuclear bomb this is for civilian interest. but they seem to be pushing the envelope far and this war of words with israel is escalating beyond anything i have seen in the last seven years that i have been in iran. >> thank you for that report. now up to date, how will escalating the tension over the nuclear program affect the u.s. a member of the armed services described the stakes. let's listen to her. >> the problem is that iran is determined to create not only a threat to israel but to the united states. >> robin wright author "rock the
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casbah" there is somebody, she is sound, what is she talking about existential threat to the united states, how do they destroy us, iran? >> i think that is virtually impossible at this stage. iran is not there yet, there is growing concern their capabilities are, announcements today are in your face, we can do what we want but also comes not only in context of a new elections, two weeks away that will determine who is in parliament and who makes important decisions but also on the eve of what may well be another round of diplomatic talks, at the same time --. >> this is politics on both sides? >> absolutely. the fact is that the iranians sent a letter today to the head of the european union foreign ministry to discuss the invitation to sit down at the table again. >> let's look at the guy we covered, president obama. do you think based upon his
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words, his pattern, based on his advisors, that he would attack iran this year before the presidential election? >> no, not before the election. i don't think there will be an attack, probably this year. unless -- >> how about the israelis. >> are there enough little incidents that happened in georgia, india, thailand, that then spiral out of control and become something bigger. >> my original speculation, you hit tel aviv, you won't talk to the damage it do do humanity, this guy they are bombing, killing people, engaging in terrorists assassination imagine how this is playing in tel aviv on television they are watching this guy, this crazy guy, this zealot talking nuclear.
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>> well, most of what the iranians are doing are actually legal under the terms of the non-proliferation treaty, they claim it's part of the peaceful program. >> regular middle of the road israeli watching this on television, get your trigger finger ready. >> i think some are prepared to go when ever offered the opportunity there are many in the military who are very worried you think iraq and afghanistan were tough you try iran. the repercussions are not simply the fallut and aftermath of a strike on a suspected nuclear facilities it's how it plays out across the region in changing the political dynamics. >> everybody sides with iran against israel? >> not at all. >> the arabs are secretly with israel, they don't want them to have a nuclear weapon. >> the real danger is if iran get a nuclear capability. >> i wondered most of us who
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care about the if you, what happened in ee jipt, the new government in libya decides gadhafi was headed in that direction. what happens if a new government in syria start going in that direction? >> you're jumping way ahead where anyone is. most of the countries are so desperate economically not only could they afford a nuclear program they can't create jobs. >> they can't buy it with oil? egypt doesn't have oil. >> thank you robin wright you made me feel better. let me finish why romney's, mitt romney beginning to look goofy out there. we'll get to that you watch hard ball were you're watching only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] for a better-looking tomorrow.
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let me finish with this, ever since this campaign began, i thought that if a conservative candidate could catch mitt romney in an open field, just the two of them out there, it would be a tough afternoon for the man from massachusetts. well, that day has come. it's clear as day what we're looking at. we're looking at a candidate at the center right trying to take on the real thing, someone who speaks, feels and sweats the talk of the republican base. watch the next time you see santorum speak to a crowd. he speaks as one of the people in the room. he's one of them. they can tell he's one of them.
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another true blue conservative you can see the common emotion, the passion in each other people of the same tribe do, same political tribe in this case. now watch romney. watch a guy who looks like he dressed for the occasion, jeans, the open collar, slightly mussed hair, he dressed like a conservative. he bought the designer version what the little people wear. rich fellas dress up to look like the sort of people who come to republican political rallies. touching just a little, don't you think? jack kennedy said he felt sorry for richard nixon because he didn't know what he would be each day. that is no problem for rick santorum you may think him zany or fear him as the guy who wants his religion to be the state's religion, his values to be the national law. he's never changed.

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